BUY GIANT ONION SEED




If you are looking to buy giant onion seeds, you are in luck. The 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop now has giant onion seed in stock as part of its standard range. Prices are in pounds Stirling (GBP) but all major currencies are accepted at the check out - including dollars and Euro's. Plus, all international deliveries start from a flat rate of just £ 1.99 no matter how many packets of whatever varieties you purchase.

Giant onion seed is best sown from late December up until late February. Using a good quality compost - such as John Innes ‘Seed and Cutting’ - fill a seed tray to about ½ inch from the top then gently compress it down with a sheet of stiff board. Sow the giant onion seed onto the surface of the compost making sure that they are evenly spaced - a standard seed tray will hold about 50 seeds – then lightly cover the seed with some more of the same compost.

Keep the seeds moist, one of the best ways to do this is by watering the seed tray by placing it in a larger tray of water and allowing the water to gently seep up through the compost. The surface colour of the compost will change colour once it has taken enough water. In order to maintain warmth and humidity the seed tray can be covered with a transparent sheet of glass, plastic or even a sheet of cling film. However, this must be removed immediately as soon as the first seedlings emerge. At a temperature of approximately 13 degrees Celsius this will take around 2 weeks. Avoid trying to germinate the onion seeds at a higher temperature as this can damage the onion seeds giving poor germination results.
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Once the seedlings are at their crook stage, they will be ready to potted on into individual pots. Use something small at this point such as a 9cm pot and use John Innes No 1 compost as the preferred medium. Be careful here as the juvenile leaves are easily damaged.

Water the seedlings only when required and make sure that they receive adequate ventilation as they can become susceptible to water borne diseases such as botrytis.

As the season progresses, the young onion plants can be moved out from their protected environment and into a cold frame during mid - late March. This ensures that the onion plants are properly hardened off before planting outside which should occur from late April. Even this late on in the year you can consider giving you giant onion seedlings a little protection by growing them under cloches..

How to prepare a giant onion bed

First you will need to choose a site that has good drainage. If you do not possess such a spot then you can improve the soil structure by adding plenty of organic matter to it. In soils where even this will make little difference then you will need to consider planting your young giant onion plants into a mounded or raised bed.

To get the best size out of your onions you would dig trenches 18 inches deep - this is a job best started in late autumn or early winter when the weather is reasonably dry. Then fork up the bottom of each trench if the base of the trench is hard, solid ground. Into each 3 square yards of trench add 140 grams of bonemeal, 170 grams of potash and 4 forkfuls of pea, bean or tomato haulms (discarded stems or seed casings).

Then knocking back in the spoil, work in 1 garden barrow of well rotted farm manure. It is essential that the greater proportion of the manure should be near the top of the bed, within approximately 4 inches if the surface to enable the giant onion roots to come in contact with the manure during the early stages of growth. This bed can now be left rough over the winter period.

Come March, work the top of the trench into a fine tilth and this time add 55grams of Superphosphates, 28 grams of hydrated lime or 500grams of calcified seaweed to every 3 square yards of trench.

There is no need to firm the ground unless it is very light and an advantage can be gained by covering the trenches with cloches both before and after planting. Cloches used prior to planting will warm the ground giving less of a growth check at this time.

When should you harvest Giant Onions?

Your giant onions should be ready for harvesting any time between August to September depending on both the weather and the individual variety. The giant onion bulb will be mature when the foliage turns yellow and begins to tip over, but you will need to leave them for another couple of weeks before lifting.

Choose a dry day and if the onions are fully ripe they will lift easily from the ground, any problems and you can carefully ease them out of the soil using a hand fork.

They will now need to be dried and depending on the weather or the size of your onions this will take approximately 3-5 weeks for them to properly cure before they are ready for the kitchen.

If any of your giant onions have developed thick 'necks' over the growing season, use these ones straight away as they will not store well and will be more prone to neck rot.

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Images care of http://clicksomemore.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/prize-winning-giant-vegetables.html

BUY BAT PLANT SEED – Tacca chantieri


If you are looking to buy seed from the bat plant, you are in luck. The 'Garden of Eaden' seed shop now has bat plant seed in stock as part of its standard range. Just click on the links to be directed to the new and improved seed shop.

The incredible, yet stunning looking Bat plant is so unusual in its shape and design that it almost looks unreal. Growing wild in the tropical forests of the Yunnan Province, China, this gothic plant can reach a height of up 36 inches! It grows best in a well-drained, slightly acidic soil and although it appears highly exotic, this beautiful plant is in fact hardy down to -3 degrees Celsius!

The bat plant prefers warm humid temperatures, but will happily grow outside in a container so long as it is placed in a sheltered position protected from the strength of a mid-day sun. In fact, you may be able to grow it directly in the ground if you live in a climate where frosts are unheard of you could consider growing bat plants permanently outside, planted directly in the ground. However, it would still be wise to start if off in a container and place it in a proven spot provided it receives enough shade from direct sunlight.

However, it may need to come under protection over winter if temperatures are likely to dip below freezing. To keep on the safe side, bring it into the warm as soon as temperatures start dropping below 6 °Celsius. During this cold period, keep the compost just on the moist side or even let it dry out between watering as you would do for an orchid.

GROWING FROM SEED

Sow bat plant – Tacca chantieri seed into plug trays filled with a good quality John Innes ‘Seed’ compost, then give them a further light covering of compost or horticultural grit. Gently water them in, and then seal the tray into a clear polythene bag placing it on the window sill of a warm bright room. Make sure that the tray is out of direct sunlight. Don’t hold your breath because germination can take anywhere between 1 and 9 months! However, this can be greatly improved by allowing the seed to soak overnight in warm water before sowing.

Once the bat plant seedlings are large enough to handle they will be ready for transplanting into individual pots. Using a good quality ericaceous compost mix, add 10-20% horticultural grit or perlite to it for extra drainage. TIP. During the growing season, these young seedlings must be watered regularly, and because they thrive in humid conditions give them an occasional misting too.

While growing bat plants from seed will give you the opportunity to produce a variety of colour forms, you can also propagate bat plants from root cuttings from two year old plants onwards.

POTTING ON

When potting on a bat plant use a good quality ericaceous compost mix. However, it is advisable to add 10-20% horticultural grit or perlite to it for extra drainage. Drainage is important where bat plants are concerned. If they are left in waterlogged conditions, they can be subject to a fungal disease which can attack the leaves - blackening them from the edges.

Note. Avoid re-potting unless there is a good 2-3 months of warm weather left. During the winter in temperate and sub-tropical zones, the bat plant will go dormant but it will not die back. However, it will die back to its rhizome if you overwater in winter when the plant is dormant. Water too much however and you will risk killing off the entire root system.

CARE OF YOUR BAT PLANT

To get the best flowering out of you bat plant you will need to keep it well fed with plant fertiliser. Osmocote is particularly effective otherwise use soluble high potash fertilisers. If your bat plant starts to dry out you will find that the leaves will quickly wilt, but don’t worry too much about this. If you catch it in time and give a quick watering, the leaves will bounce back with no obvious sighs of distress.

During the winter, watering will need to be reduced considerably, but do not allow the soil to dry out completely. To maintain the bat plant in best condition, move it to a mild, sheltered area such as a conservatory, then re-pot into a larger pot once new growth begins in the spring.

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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MILLIPEDE AND A CENTIPEDE?




Centipedes and millipedes often get lumped together as the same sort of creature ie. things that aren't insects or arachnids (spiders). While both millipedes and centipedes belong to the same overall family - Arthropoda, that is pretty much where the similarities end.

Centipedes belong to their own class – Chilopoda. The name originates from the Greek cheilos, meaning lip, and poda, meaning foot. The millipedes belong to a separate class, Diplopoda. Also from the Greek, Diplopoda means double foot.

So, what are the differences between millipedes and centipedes? To find out, they are listed below:


MILLIPEDES

1. Millipedes have short antennae.

2. Millipede's have two pairs of legs per body segment, except for the first three segments, which have one pair of legs each.

3. The legs of a millipede do not visibly extend from body and the rear leg pairs are in line with the body.

4. Millipedes are slow walkers

5. A Millipede will not bite you.

6. Millipedes are mostly scavengers that eat leaf litter and other vegetation.

CENTIPEDES

1. Centipedes have long antennae.

2. Centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment.

3. The legs of a centipede visibly extend from the sides of the body and trail backwards behind the body.

4. Centipedes are fast runners

5. A centipede has the capacity to bite and if you annoy it, it may well bite you!

6. Centipedes are mostly predatory creatures that will eat insects and other small arthropods.

One more thing!

Finally centipedes are 'carnivores' that have two modified legs that have large hallow claws that contain a venom gland, some species are quite poisonous. Millipedes are 'vegetarian' and do not have these, but instead can produce a foul smelling chemical to deter predators. This chemical can also act as an irritant.

What's in a name?

While the 'milli' part of the name millipede suggests that this creature possesses a thousand legs (mille is latin for thousand, hence millennium means a thousand years). In reality, a millipede doesn't have more than 750 legs.

Likewise, a centipede is supposed to have a hundred legs (from Latin prefix centi - meaning 'hundred'). Despite the name, centipedes can have a varying number of legs from under 20 to over 300! Strangely, centipedes always have an odd number of pairs of legs, e.g. 15 or 17 pairs of legs (30 or 34 legs).

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THE WHITE BAT PLANT - Tacca integrifolia



Tacca integrifolia – more commonly known as the White Bat Plant - is one of the world’s most unusual flowering plants! It has a highly unusual flower arrangement that is held about 3ft high, but amazingly, the thick purple whiskers that emanate from within the flower are so long that they can sometimes reach the ground! Its top bracts consist of two spectacular dorsals - usually white and purple stripes -  each one about 8 inches wide! The true flowers are located at the bottom centre of the inflorescence and are reminiscent of thick, purple buttons!

As a native of Malaysia, the white bat plant prefers warm humid temperatures, but it will happily grow outside in a container so long as it is placed in a sheltered position and protected from the strength of a mid-day sun. In fact, you may be able to grow it directly in the ground if you live in a climate where frosts are unheard. In fact, you could consider growing bat plants permanently outside, planted directly in the ground. However, it would still be wise to start if off in a container and place it in a proven spot provided it receives enough shade from direct sunlight.

However, it may need to come under protection over winter if temperatures are likely to dip below freezing. To keep on the safe side, bring it into the warm as soon as temperatures start dropping below 6 °Celsius. During this cold period, keep the compost on the moist side or even let it dry out between watering as you would do for an orchid..

If grown from seed, your bat plant should start to flower after about two years growth, but within that there will be a surprise. With seed grown plants, variations in flower colour are regularly witnessed, producing purple or pure white bracts. On rare occasions bat plants can even produce flowers with white whiskers!

While growing bat plants from seed will give you the opportunity to produce a variety of colour forms, you can also propagate bat plats from root cuttings off of two year old plants onwards.

POTTING ON

When potting on a bat plant, use a good quality ericaceous compost mix. However, it is advisable to add 10-20% horticultural grit or perlite to it for extra drainage. Drainage is important where bat plants are concerned. If they are left in waterlogged conditions, they can be subject to a fungal disease which can attack the leaves - blackening them from the edges.

Note. Avoid re-potting bat plants unless there are still 2-3 months of warm weather left. During the winter - in temperate and sub-tropical areas - it goes dormant but will not die back. However it will die back to its rhizome if you overwater in winter when dormant. Over do it and you will kill off the whole root system!

CARE OF YOUR BAT PLANT

To get the best flowering out of you bat plant you will need to keep it well fed with plant fertiliser. Osmocote is particularly effective, but if you don't have any then use a soluble high potash fertilisers. If they start to dry out you will find that the leaves will quickly wilt, but don’t worry to much about this. If you catch it in time and give a quick watering, the leaves will bounce back with no obvious signs of distress.

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HOW TO GROW A LAWN FROM SEED




If you want to grow a successful, quality lawn from seed then the first thing you will need to know is that it is ALL about the preparation! In fact the decisions you make before you even start to work on your new lawn can have a crucial effect on the end result.

With that in mind, first give some thought as to what you want from your lawn, not just for this year but for years to come. Do you want a square lawn, a shaped one, or do you want a lawn with flower beds cut into it? Will it need to be hard wearing or tolerant of shade?

A lawn will not need to be perfectly horizontal, but you'll probably want to avoid steep slopes otherwise you can end up with drainage issues - i.e. Dry at the top and damp at the bottom – which can result in moss or weed problems further down the line.

If you need to level out an area that is on a slope, it is usually achieved by raising the lower end of the slope with removed excess soil from of the higher end of the slope. That way, the slope is evened out with out the need to dispose of any excess soil.

However, it is important to remember not to mix up top soil with sub soil. Although it may seem a lot more work, the correct way to achieve this is to remove all of the top soil from the area that is being levelled, then backfill the lower end with sub soil taken from the higher end. Once completed, replace the top soil back over the whole area.

Unfortunately, if the ground has been levelled by more than about a foot you will need to leave it to settle for at least a year before seeding your lawn. Why? Because the ground will invariably sink over time and this will most likely be at an uneven rate across the whole of the area worked.

PREPARING THE SITE

The proposed area for your new lawn will need to be well drained. If the area suffers from damp or even periodic water logging, it may be necessary to lay either a soak away or drainage pipes under the soil. If drainage problems are not dealt with at this initial stage then you are only opening the door for plenty of work later on.

If the lawn is going to be laid around a newly built house, you can probably expect the builders to have buried some of their building waste in the garden – it is also likely that the top and sub soils have been mixed up.

Furthermore, if there is any builder’s sand left, do not be tempted to dig it in - you need 'sharp sand' to condition soil not 'builders sand'. Start by removing all large stones, blocks and any obviously non-organic rubbish from the surface.

A lawn will grow best on well drained medium loam. If this sounds like your soil then your preparation can be minimal, but if the soil is clay or sandy, you'll need to do more work.

With heavy clay soils, you should add sharp sand, and any well-rotted organic compost as this will improve drainage under the lawn.

With sandy soils, you should just add well-rotted organic compost as this will help to improve moisture retention under the lawn.

The top soil will need to be prepared to give a fine, workable tilth to a depth of 4 to 5 inches. If you are adding organic matter, you should aim for a minimum depth of 6 inches. If the area of the lawn is fairly small, it can be prepared by hand using a spade. For larger areas it is worth using a rotovator.

When starting to prepare the soil, it needs to be not too dry and not too wet. Start by digging or rotovating the whole area to the required depth, breaking down any large clumps of soil and remove any stones or rubbish you come across.

TIP. When digging, work backwards so you don't tread down the soil you've just broken up.

Having turned over the whole area and broken down the soil, add only half the sharp sand or organic compost that you need, and dig over or rotovate the whole area again. Once completed, add the other half of the material waiting to be dug in, and go over the whole area once last time.

Rake over the area to level it while removing any vegetation, stones or rubbish which may appear. Now leave the area to settle for a week.

If a lot of weed or vegetation appear in the first week, consider using a non-residual herbicide to kill them off. Carefully follow the instructions and leave the soil for the recommended period before proceeding.

Rake over the area again and remove any more vegetation, stones or rubbish which may appear.

Tread down the entire area. Start in one corner, then walk slowly across the soil placing one foot in front of the other. When you reach the other end, turn around and repeat until the whole area has been trod down (if the area is large, you may need more than one person!). The first time you do this, you'll probably find some humps and dips, remove these by giving the surface a light racking and repeat the treading down.

SOWING THE LAWN

To give your newly seeded lawn the best chance of creating a quality lawn, the best time to achieve this is to sow the lawn in the spring or autumn - depending on the weather conditions and temperature.

Sow the lawn on a wind free day, but just before you start sowing, give the area one last rake over Divide the quantity of seeds into two, (it is better to sow two lighter sowings rather than one heavy one). If the area to be sown is large, you can divide the seeds further. This will reduce the chances of covering three quarters of the area and finding that all the seed has gone!

Sow one covering of seeds while walking in one direction, and the second sowing while walking at right-angles to the first covering.

Lightly rake the seed into the top of the soil, you won't cover all the seed but try to cover about half. Once finished the area should not be walked on so you may wish to cordon off the area until the new lawn is in place.

AFTER CARE

Grass seed should germinate within 7 to 21 days depending upon the weather. If a dry period occurs then you may wish to water during this germination stage, use a gentle watering technique (a garden sprinkler or hose with a fine spray attachment pointed skywards) to keep the top of the soil moist.

TIP. Too much water applied in the early days can float the individual seeds into concentrations.

If possible, protect the area from birds and domestic pets. Chicken wire is ideal but probably impractical except for small areas. On larger areas, tin foil attached to string stretched across the area may help.

When the grass is about 1 inch high, gently roll the area with a light garden roller. Alternatively, if you have a cylinder mower, set the blades as high as possible and use this instead. If you have just a small patch of lawn, you may be able to get away with treading the area in the same way as was done before the grass seed was sown.

Avoid mowing the grass until it is about 3 inches high. After this first cut, lightly mow the lawn with the cutter set to about 2 inches. If you are not using a cylinder mower, you will still need to lightly roll - or tread - the area after the lawn has been cut.

Further reduce the cutting height of your mower with each subsequent mowing - and still roll after each mowing - but don't cut lower than 1 inch during the first season.

NOTE. Keep playing children and pets off the lawn for the first season, the first year grass seedlings are plants and need time to become established.

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Article based on the writings of http://www.gardeningdata.co.uk/
Photos care of http://www.thedailygreen.com/ and http://blog.mmenterprises.co.uk/ and http://cluedupdads.blogspot.com/

HOW TO USE CROP ROTATION ON AN ALLOTMENT




Based on an extract from ‘Practical Gardening and Food Production in Pictures’ – published in 1940

On allotments it is important to adopt some kind of crop rotation. The effect of rotation is to obtain a better yield from your crops and to avoid diseases which will attack said crops if they are continuously grown on the same piece of land. That said, onions are the only crop which can be grow on the same land year after year - provided that suitable fertilisers and manures are applied.

In practice, many allotment holders follow a two year rotation. Half of their plot is taken up with potatoes while the remainder is used for other crops. In such a case the operation is to simply rotate the crops alternate years, but the best method is to use a three year crop rotation.

By using a rotation of crops, the same piece of land will not carry the same vegetables in successive years. For convenience, cops can be divided into three groups.

1. Peas and Beans
2. Cabbage, broccoli and other brassicas, turnips and Swedes.
3. Root crops

Note. Lettuce, spinach and other salad crops can be treated as intercrops, while leeks, onions and celery can be placed anywhere, but preferably in the area where the brassicas etc are being grown.

Regarding fertilisers and digging, each area will of course need to be treated differently. In this way only one section (Root crops) will need to be double-dug each year, reducing the amount of heavy work required.

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HOW TO GROW THE BAT PLANT FROM SEED – Tacca chantieri



The incredible, yet stunning looking Bat plant is so unusual in shape and design that it almost looks unreal. Growing wild in the tropical forests of the Yunnan Province, China, this Gothic plant can reach a height of up 36 inches! It grows best in a well-drained, slightly acidic soil and although it appears highly exotic, this beautiful plant is in fact hardy down to -3 degrees Celsius!

Growing bat plants from seed is relatively easy. Sow bat plant seed into plug trays filled with a good quality John Innes ‘Seed’ compost, then give them a light covering of compost or horticultural grit.

Bat plant seedlings
Gently water them in, then seal the tray into a clear polythene bag placing it on the window sill of a warm bright room. Make sure that the tray is out of direct sunlight.

Don’t hold your breath because - depending on light and heat factors - germination can take anywhere between 1 and 9 months! However, this can be significantly reduced by allowing the seed to soak overnight in warm water before sowing.

Once the bat plant seedlings are large enough to handle they will be ready for transplanting into individual pots. Using a good quality ericaceous compost mix, add about 30% horticultural grit or perlite to it for extra drainage.

 TIP. During the growing season, these young bat plant seedlings must be watered regularly, and because they thrive in humid conditions, give them an occasional misting.

During the winter, watering will need to be reduced considerably, but do not allow the soil to dry out completely. To maintain the bat plant in its best condition, move it to a mild, sheltered area such as a conservatory, then re-pot into a larger container once new growth begins in the spring.

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Photo care of http://www.mgonlinestore.com/